Walking in their shoes…

Last week I had the wonderful experience to travel to Dubai. It was a school trip with my MBA class. A great experience, no need to say!
We got to discover the wonders of such a modern city, with an outstanding architecture almost defying gravity. Where everything is huge, megalomaniac. A luxury universe created from scratch out of the sand of the desert.
But what is even more amazing is that all this modernity contrasts with a very traditional society in which the local population walks around the trendiest spots wearing traditional clothes. Men in Kanduras and women in Abayas.
Even though they are totally used to having tourists and expats around, (and we are allowed to dress in the « western way »), we can still feel in their eyes a glance of disapproval.
The last time I travelled to the Middle East I was 6 years old, so I definitely didn’t remember how it felt to be looked at in that way!
On my last night in the city, we decided to go for some typical souvenirs and there was I purchasing a typical outfit. I was so excited about it that I decided to walk out all dressed up, from head to toes, as a UAE woman. And yet I could not imagine that I was about to experience one of the most intense anthropological episodes of my life. I completely blended in and from that moment on everything changed.
The ladies looked at me with respect, to foreigners (men) I stopped existing, to local men I started to exist as a respectable person, and in the shops… oh dear, in every single store I was treated as a princess!!! All the sales team was really concerned about every single movement of me. They smiled all the time and kept pampering me. As we stopped in a restaurant to have dinner, the manager himself came over to assist us. We were a group of 8 girls, but his attention was absolutely on me. He was so attentive, and he provided us with the best service we ever had during the whole trip!
Actually, I was starting to believe that being a woman in Dubai had its great advantages after all. That feeling went on until after we had dinner and I went out of the restaurant with one of my friends to smoke a cigarette. I was opening my purse, and I remembered that I was wearing an abaya and I did not recall seeing any local woman smoking!!! Moreover, my passport was at the hotel. So there I was, all stunning in my new clothes, in a super luxurious restaurant, but definitely trapped by UAE’ s women condition!
In that very moment all the glamour was swept away and I could only thank god for being born in a country where women are free to wear what they like…

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